Displaying items by tag: direct indexing

Friday, 01 March 2024 03:11

The Clients That Need Direct Indexing

Direct indexing offers solutions for complex financial challenges but isn't suitable for every investor. Identifying which clients may benefit involves considering factors like tax-loss harvesting, ESG preferences, factor investing, and managing large positions or capital gains. 


High-net-worth clients with significant capital gains and taxable equity holdings stand to gain the most from daily tax-loss harvesting, potentially doubling their harvested losses. For clients passionate about ESG criteria, direct indexing allows for precise customization, albeit with a slight fee premium and potential tracking error. Factor investing via direct indexing suits clients with specific customization needs beyond prepackaged ETFs, although advisors must weigh the added complexity against potential benefits. 


Transitioning large existing positions into diversified portfolios using direct indexing offers tax efficiency, particularly for clients with concentrated holdings or restrictions on selling.

Finsum: Advisors need to gauge their clients benefits from direct indexing strategies, and the costs and concerns aren’t always a net positive. 


Published in Bonds: Total Market
Wednesday, 21 February 2024 13:43

Burton Malkiel Advocates for Direct Indexing

Burton Malkiel is one of the pioneers of passive investing with his classic, “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, introducing the concept to millions of people. In his current role as CIO of Wealthfront, he has spoken about the power of direct indexing to enhance after-tax returns. In a recent blog post, he remarked that tax-loss harvesting is “the only reliable way for investors to outperform the market.” 

With direct indexing, portfolios are regularly scanned for tax-loss harvesting opportunities. This enables investors to capture the advantages of passive investing while still availing themselves of the tax loss benefits of a more active approach. 

Malkiel notes that passive strategies outperform active 90% of the time, and active returns are even worse after taking taxes into consideration. He sees direct indexing working well, especially for investors who are periodically putting money to work in their accounts and during periods of heightened volatility. 

In terms of other tax considerations, Malkiel believes that Roth IRAs are the best investment vehicles for the majority of investors. He recommends dollar-cost averaging when investors are in the ‘accumulation’ phase but not necessarily for those drawing down funds. And he reaffirms that keeping costs low is one of the keys to long-term investing success. 


Finsum: Burton Malkiel, the author of “Random Walk Down Wall Street” is an advocate for direct indexing given its power to boost after-tax returns.

Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 15 February 2024 14:17

Direct Indexing for Fixed Income

Until recently, direct indexing has typically been applied for equities. Its benefits in terms of creating after-tax alpha and increased customization are well-known. However, advisors should also be aware that direct indexing can also be leveraged for fixed income portfolios, and it can be especially impactful for clients nearing retirement. 


Direct indexing with equities means that investors own the actual constituents of an index rather than a fund. This leads to opportunities for tax-loss harvesting and personalization. Similarly, direct indexing with fixed income means that investors own the actual bonds held by a fund which also allows for tax-loss harvesting and increased personalization.


These portfolios can be optimized based on desired characteristics of credit quality, duration, and maturity. Essentially, this creates a custom, bond ladder portfolio with various fixed income securities.


Research also shows that tax-loss harvesting has more potential benefits in a fixed income portfolio. This is because there are proceeds from maturing bonds and coupons that can be used for reinvestment or lowering a cost basis. Further, the bond ladder can also be optimized based on an investors’ tax rate and/or location, to maximize accretive, after-tax returns. 


Finsum: By now, most are familiar with direct indexing for equities. Now, we are starting to see it applied to fixed income portfolios where the benefits are possibly greater. 


Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 09 February 2024 05:29

Increasing Tax Efficiency With Direct Indexing

Direct indexing combines the best elements of running a traditional portfolio with passively investing in indexes. This means that investors can reap the benefits of passive investing such as low costs, diversification, and proven long-term outperformance. Yet, they can still take advantage of tax loss harvesting which isn’t possible through investing in ETFs or mutual funds. 


This is because direct indexing leverages technology to recreate an index within an individual account. This technology will also regularly scan the portfolio for tax loss harvesting opportunities. Losing positions are sold and then replaced with positions that have similar factor scores to ensure that the index continues to be tracked. Over a whole year, this will lower an investors’ tax liability.


According to research, direct indexing will lead to an additional average annual return of 1.1%. Further, various direct indexing providers can optimize a portfolio according to an investors’ specific tax situation by offering various scenarios and the subsequent impact on capital gains. From an advisors’ perspective, many clients are interested in reducing taxes and aligning their investments with personal values. Direct indexing can help with both goals which means it can be quite potent in terms of recruiting and retaining clients. 

Finsum: Direct indexing can increase an investors’ average annual return by reducing tax liabilities. This is in addition to the typical benefits of passive investing such as diversification and low costs. 

Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 02 February 2024 07:32

Direct Indexing’s Value in Volatile Markets

Financial markets have been quite strong over the last few months on the prospects of an economy that continues to defy skeptics and evade a recession, falling inflation, and a dovish Fed. But there are some signs that the market’s ascent is being interrupted by a bout of volatility due to some high-profile earnings misses, a more hawkish than expected FOMC, and flagging momentum in the labor market. Given the uncertainty around the Fed, an upcoming election, and the importance of economic data in the coming months, this volatility is likely to persist.

This volatility is uncomfortable for investors. However, for direct indexing investors, there is a silver lining as volatility leads to opportunities to harvest tax losses. Direct indexing entails reconstructing an index within an account by owning the actual holdings rather than a fund. 

This approach combines the benefits of passive investing - low costs, diversification, and proven performance - with the ability to harvest tax losses that is possible with individual stocks but not by investing in an ETF or mutual fund. Direct indexing platforms will automatically scan portfolios on a regular basis for tax loss harvesting opportunities. These positions are then replaced with positions with similar factor scores to ensure that the index continues to be tracked.


Finsum: There are some signs that the market rally is ending and that the markets could be entering a period of volatility. One advantage of direct indexing is that it is able to harvest tax losses during this period. 


Published in Wealth Management
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